US Secretary of State John Kerry’s peacemaking efforts became that much more
difficult on Saturday, when the Arab League effectively rejected security
arrangements he recently presented to Israel and the Palestinian
At an emergency meeting called at the request of PA President
Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday, Arab League Secretary- General Nabil Elaraby said
there could be not one Israeli soldier in the territory of a future Palestinian
Abbas briefed the Arab representatives on the current talks with
On two visits earlier this month Kerry presented to Abbas and
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu security “ideas” based on the work that a team
of some 160 US officials, headed by retired US Marine Corps Gen. John Allen,
drew up defining what it thought would be necessary for Israel’s security if a
Palestinian state were created.
Those ideas reportedly included an IDF
presence in the Jordan Valley for an extended period, between 10 and 15
Netanyahu has for years been adamant in demanding an Israeli
security presence – and not any kind of international force – along the Jordan
River following a peace agreement with the Palestinians.
rejected the idea.
One government official said the Arab world needed to
understand that ignoring legitimate Israeli security concerns “is not going to
bring about the creation of a Palestinian state.”
On the contrary, “only
by engaging seriously with Israel on the security issues can this process move
forward. Arabs countries that refuse to take Israeli security concerns seriously
are not doing the Palestinians any favors,” the official said.
held Israel responsible for “hindering” the peace talks with the Palestinians
and called to compel Israel to halt settlement construction.
Kerry’s proposal to maintain an Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley for
several years, the Arab representatives reiterated their commitment to the
establishment of an independent Palestinian state “on all the Palestinian lands
occupied in 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital,” in accordance with the
2002 Arab Peace Initiative and UN resolutions pertaining to the Israeli-Arab
The league was considered instrumental in getting Abbas to
agree to reenter negotiations with Israel in late July, and its agreement to
amend its peace initiative and include acceptance of the formula of a mutually
agreed-upon land swap between Israel and the Palestinians has been hailed by
Kerry as a major diplomatic step forward.
The league on Saturday also
reiterated its opposition to “all Israeli plans and policies aimed at changing
the demographic and geographic reality in the occupied Palestinian territories,
including East Jerusalem.”
It called on the US and other permanent
members of the Security Council, as well as the European Union and United
Nations, to compel Israel to stop settlement activities and release all
Palestinians held in Israeli prisons.
Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat,
who accompanied Abbas to the Cairo gathering, said that the PA president
stressed his complete opposition to “interim or selective
Erekat’s remarks are seen as a rejection of Kerry’s
Quoting Abbas, Erekat said that “any solution should be
comprehensive regarding all final-status issues.”
Two weeks ago, US
President Barack Obama discussed the possibility of a “framework agreement”
emerging at the end of the current talks, which are scheduled to run until the
end of April.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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